I wrote this to my amazing rogue artist family on Patreon today and wanted to share it with all of you.
We are still waiting on test results for COVID and I am convinced we do not have it, but there is no way to be sure until we get the results.
It is interesting to me, finding myself at this moment where I feel so run down, and not well, with this lingering thought in the air of “Do I have it?”
We don’t feel well, yet we’re not exhibiting many of the severe symptoms, which is great. The symptoms we do have are not constant such as chills and headaches… Although fatigue and body aches seem to go from extreme to not so extreme.
I made the mistake of reading some news about the situation out there in outside land and a sense of sadness took over.
Humans are such beautiful creatures who can accomplish extraordinary things when they stand together in that beauty… Yet everyone seems so divided right now…
I am holding back the tears in my eyes as I write this…
Maybe I’m feeling the effects of the fatigue and right now is NOT the time to be reading any world news. Especially because I have not been creating an outlet for myself of my art.
I always feel that by creating beauty, empowering people, and expressing how beautiful and amazing we all are – it’s my way of adding light into a world that seems to have a shadow looming… If everyone understood how absolutely amazing they were, they wouldn’t power struggle to be better than someone else… No one is better, we are all beautiful and uniquely perfect at being who we are, which is an ever-changing, ever-evolving thing that grows and blooms as we experience this crazy thing called life.
I don’t know… Part of my brain says “You are so full of crap Rafi, nothing you do is meaningful, nothing you do has an effect on anything.” Luckily, I don’t buy into that voice.
Sure, everyone may not find it meaningful, but I feel that everything we do impacts the world. Just existing and breathing has an impact on the world around you.
It’s like walking into a room where someone has been stewing in anger and you can FEEL the tension in the room… We can FEEL others joy, sadness, hopefulness, anger, fear… and it is contagious.
Right now I feel sadness, but less so than I felt before I started writing this. I may not be creating art right now, but I am creating this… expressing my empowerment and ability to understand that even the smallest flicker of light can shine bright in the darkness.
We all can shine bright in the darkness with the smallest flicker of hope and love. We can cultivate that flicker into a flame and eventually a burst of light as powerful as the sun… and it all resides within us… Imagine knowing that everyone can somehow feel that, and that light is contagious.
Love… Hope… Feeling empowered… Feeling beautiful… And knowing that we are all a force of nature.
Yeah… I definitely need to get back to painting and creating soon 🙂
There have been a lot of mornings recently where I have woken up with that voice in my head telling me that I am a loser. It calls me fat, old, and untalented. I tells me that I’m boring and pretty soon everyone that likes me is going to know the truth of how much of a loser I am. That voice doesn’t put it in eloquent sentences, it’s usually very mean and to the point.
The thing is, nobody’s voice hates them in the beginning. As an artist, I spend a lot of time with this voice. I spend a lot of time in solitary creation where I am wrapped up in my mind. Most times I argue with the stick-man (that’s what Klee and I call the negative self-talk voice) the same way I would argue with someone standing over my shoulder talking shit.
The stick man loves to sometimes just stand in the corner of my mind while I go about my day, screaming “FAT FAT FAT OLD OLD FAT FAT HAIRY HAIRY UGLY UGLY BALD FAT FAT UGLY BALD FAT OLD OLD OLD FAT!” Like I said, he’s not eloquent.
Argue with that voice, or just tell it to go fly a kite. No one is born with a negative voice in their head. In fact, as very young children, we rarely criticize ourselves or anyone else. We don’t know the differences associated with age, race, weight, economic background, schooling, gender, or anything else that we humans use to define something. We don’t have self-judgment or self-criticism yet, because we haven’t learned where we or others fit in the world… people are just people.
So where did it come from?
That shit was implanted in your brain jar. As little snot nosed beings, we are like sponges absorbing everything in the world. In the very beginning, most of our world consists of our parents. We pick up A LOT of our identity and insecurities there. Sometimes, unfortunately, the insecurities are blatant in some kind of form of abuse, other times it is much more subtle. Just being in a room with someone who has anxiety can make you feel anxious. If you think the unspoken emotions, fears, and insecurities that someone is carrying around don’t have a deep effect on their environment and the little sponges within said environment, then you are mistaken.
Whether the insecurities of others is directed at you or not doesn’t matter, what matters is understanding that most of your insecurities were passed down to you. Those insecurities were passed down to them, it’s like a cycle of bullshit or an “ouroboros of bullshit” as Klee calls it, and there is a lot of it.
Then add the crap ideals that are abundant in society to separate us into some kind of group. You are told to believe that this is good, that is bad, that is wrong, that is stupid, you can’t trust THOSE kinds of people, successful people don’t sleep in, republican bad, democrat bad, liberal bad, this team, that team, real art is this or that, you need to do this or that in order to not be this or that, you have to choose a side, beauty is this, beauty is not that, this is real, this is fake… it’s a whole bunch of bullshit that got passed down the generations that we all buy into because the system was already there when we started our lives.
A lot of these contradictory beliefs in the world really do a number on how we feel about ourselves. We adopt the habits because we think it is normal… unfortunately “normal” is overrated. Everyone has a different “normal” which begs the question, isn’t it just easier to be our own kind of human and not worry so much about being normal?
I believe that if we ALL accepted and loved ourselves truly without the insecurities, judgement, and criticisms, we would also and only have that for all the other amazing humans in the world. We would just love humans for being human… instead of categorizing people or ourselves into groups.
It can be considered normal to feel like a victim, less than, unworthy, like a failure, or just not good enough. What does that say about normal? Especially when you realize that saying nice things about yourself in public is not really considered a polite thing to do… you are called a “braggart” or “full of yourself”. How is it socially acceptable that normal is not admiring the unique and creative bad ass that you are?
And I mean genuine admiration, not the fake shit that some people try to flaunt as good self esteem. If you say that you are better than this person or group, then you are full of shit. I don’t care what excuse you use, whether it is “I have more money, I’m smarter, I am this or that”, or whatever… If you need to put someone, something, or some group down to lift yourself up and feel better about you… then it’s fake and a destructive habit that you learned in life.
Focus on your relationship with you, because that is where your power is. Not in what some other human is doing or where you fall in line in the system.
The system is normal, but we were not born normal. We were born extraordinary and meant to shine our unique creative light into the world. We are all so much bigger than our insecurities, our doubts, our fears, or our labels in society… we are so much more… ALL of us.
I have been told on occasion that I’m so lucky to be able to live the life I live. Someone sees a snapshot of my life as an artist on social media and thinks that is the whole picture. As if everything is easy and just sunshine and rainbows float around my life. The truth isn’t as glamorous.
I try to be as honest and authentic as I can be with any content that I share with the world, but even then you are only getting part of the picture. In a world saturated with smiley faces and picture-perfect snapshots of everyone else’s life, it is easy to think that you are alone in feeling unhappy.
We all have our moments. When you see a picture of me creating a work of art, you don’t see all the insecurity, doubt, and worries I may have at the moment. When you see a picture of me smiling, there is no way to know if I have lingering doubts in the background of my mind.
Back to back questions can fill my head like “Am I going to have enough money to pay the bills this month? Do my children hate me? Can I pull off this next art project even though I feel like an impostor? Am I doing enough to promote myself? Why do I feel so invisible? Why am I so fat? YouTube is probably slowing down because I’m old and ugly? Aaaaaarg!”
You know… I woke up this morning feeling unmotivated and defeated. The book is eating up a huge portion of my life right now, and my days are spent sitting on the couch typing. I can easily get overwhelmed trying to balance writing a book and running my entire art and media business. Throw a small wrench into the mix like a water pipe bursting over your bed and all of a sudden it seems like the end of the world.
No matter how wonderful someone’s life may seem, we all have insecurities creep up, we all feel overwhelmed sometimes, and we all have things we are afraid of.
This morning, I feel like I’m a failure at my art business, YouTube, Patreon, and life. I hardly make any income from all the work I put into a lot of online platforms and I have to wonder if I’m wasting my time. Am I wasting my time writing this blog? I feel like I’m letting everyone who believes in me down and everything I create is crap.
From art to podcast, to videos, to life choices, to writing, to everything I do, it all feels like crap. I feel like everything I try to do is harder than it should be, and I feel isolated and alone.
Listen, I’m not sharing this with you because I think my life sucks or anything. I also don’t want you to think I’m complaining, because I’m not. I just want you to know that you are not alone, we ALL have days where our thoughts are less than satisfied with our lives. We all have those moments where we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. No matter how wonderful you think someone’s life is, I guarantee that daily, they may have something they are struggling with.
I think the reason I keep going with everything is a stubborn determination to smile. I don’t quit. I know that at some point during the day, I’m going to discourage myself. I know that there is a huge possibility that I’m going to call myself names. I am probably going to worry about the future and make myself feel bad about the choices I’ve made.
I know that a part of me will do whatever it takes to keep me comfortable, small, and hopeless. That is a safe place to be because you don’t take risks from that place. You don’t put yourself and your ideas out there if you feel that you don’t matter. My brain will do whatever it can to protect me from rejection or failure… even go as far as saying some really hurtful stuff in my own head and heart.
Insecurities are complex and hard to describe. We all have them, and they are all different and multifaceted.
I just don’t buy into mine as often as I used to, and when I do… I remind myself that when you are about to make a breakthrough, that’s when the negative voices in your head get louder and more desperate. I also don’t give myself any labels that are damaging. You may be feeling depressed, but you are not depressed, it is a momentary feeling.
We all go through this, and we all deal with it in our own way. I channel my emotions into all my creations and find a way to feel empowered by the experience.
Some commiserate with each other, some find a way to smile despite all the setbacks and some rise above the crap. Some choose to believe in themselves and focus on their life, and others compare their lives to what they assume others are experiencing.
It is after the experience, where I have faced the worst of it that you may see a picture of me smiling on social media. Shit happens, life can feel like it sucks, and times can be tough, but you get to determine how you respond to all of it. If your day sucks, then so be it, but don’t isolate yourself by thinking you’re the only one.
I share this with you because I think you’ve got this. I’ve got this… we can be heroes of our own story. We can all be champions of our own life… Just gotta choose to be awesome and roll with the punches.
There are six things that I look at whenever I find myself floundering in my career or in life. These are six things that I take a close look at when I think to myself “I should do that thing” and another side of me says “but…”
Most people think that I am full steam ahead, have endless amounts of energy and am able to somehow warp time and space. They say things like “Rafi is the hardest working artist I know.” If I’m not careful, this kind of vision of myself can become a badge of honor and I would become the hardest working artist out there, which honestly would be a total drag.
I don’t want to be the hardest working anything. In fact, I don’t want to work hard, I don’t want anything I do to be hard work in the traditional sense, I want it to be fun.
I think one of the reasons things seem like hard work for most people is because, for the most part, we are not being chased by lions anymore. Stress, anxiety, and a plethora of other emotions are tied up in this little thing we do when we go into fight or flight. It is a natural response to danger. The problem is that we go into this danger response when we feel a looming deadline, or there is a bill that is due at the end of the month.
For a lot of people out there, the simple act of speaking in front of a group is paralyzing. It can feel like a life or death situation. People will say things like “If I say the wrong things, I’ll be so embarrassed I’ll die.”
Imagine starting an art career, or any other harebrained idea that has been nagging at you. How much of that is put to a standstill because of this crazy response that is designed to keep you from becoming supper for a lion? Here are six things I tell myself to motivate myself to do that thing, but also remember to have fun.
My Voice: I have one, and the only way I will find it is by doing this thing. I might be scared, but it’s not about making a good impression, it’s about speaking my truth. It’s just my opinion, everyone has one.
The Fear: The purpose of FEAR is to stop you. Sometimes that’s a good thing, like when you are in immediate danger. But, if you are holding yourself back from doing something you know you love, the only way to get to the truth is to face that fear as many times as you have to. Make it an exciting game. Btw if the thing you want to do is put your head in a shark’s mouth then I would say actual life-risking fears require more prep and research… don’t just find a shark.
Get Started: Starting is where most people don’t even get to. There are millions of talented and creative geniuses walking around on the planet, but they just don’t start. You don’t have to dive in, but at least take a baby step daily.
Momentum: Once you start, keep going. The more you do it the more momentum you gain and eventually, you become an unstoppable force.
Habits: Understand that everything you do and every reaction is creating a habit, so create habits on purpose.
Give Yourself A Purpose: This could be anything. To make beautiful art that speaks to people, to voice my opinion, to write music that will change a generation, or just to paint pretty pictures… it doesn’t matter what other people think of your purpose, just that it matters to you.
I guess the most important take away for me is that life is a short occurrence, so you might as well do the things you want to do… and have fun.
This morning I found myself contemplating my life and the different ways I have lived it. Since I am in the process of writing a book, I am looking at notes and different events in my life that lead me to this point. I am a very happy individual, but I also spent the majority of my life feeling trapped and unhappy.
Growing up, I was influenced by television shows, parents, friends, friends families, teachers, the weird neighbor with the giant hairy mole, and pretty much everything and everyone else in society. I was told that my airy-fairy ideas of becoming an artist, musician, or creative were a cute thing to hold onto as long as I was a child, but eventually I would have to grow out of it. The influences were subtle and mostly unspoken. Most tv shows that I loved involved the man having a job he hated to support his family, the wife stayed at home and took care of the kids, and that’s just how it was. Usually, the job sucked really bad, but the man took solace in the fact that his sacrifice was for his family.
I gotta tell you… that whole scenario of putting your dreams aside, working a job you hate and sacrificing your happiness for the greater good is a piece of crap-turd. First off, that sucks for the man. I was that man for 20 years, and I can tell you, it sucked pretty bad. Second, I wasn’t benefiting my children at all, if anything I was teaching them first hand the same bad influence I had growing up. Third, I started to secretly resent my family because I felt that my sacrifice was being taken for granted, and that slowly tore everything apart.
After that experience I realized that no one had a handle on happiness or what you should do with your life, just a plethora of opinions based on other peoples’ opinions, and the majority of those opinions were outdated crap. It wasn’t out-of-the-box-thinking-trailblazers telling me my dreams were impossible, these were people that had conformed to living a life like everyone else, and most of them weren’t feeling fulfilled or happy.
Listen, I’m not saying you have to work for yourself in order to be happy, you can have a job somewhere and be happy and feel fulfilled. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot of people that just settle for what they can get and ignore the yearning that comes from within, and in my opinion, that’s just misery. I think whether you pursue your own career or you work for someone else, it’s really all about how you choose to live; whether or not you are willing to blaze your own trail or simply conform to the status quo.
Blaze a trail: Find a new path or method; begin a new undertaking. By extension, to be the first to do something, often that which is later emulated or built upon by others. Note: New trails or routes through forests were often marked by `blazing’ which involved making white marks called `blazes’ on tree trunks, usually by chipping off a piece of bark.
If there is anything that I pride myself on now, it is that I stubbornly do things my own way and continue to move forward despite the fact that I may have to pole vault over obstacles every once in a while.
That being said, if there are portions of the well-worn path that suit my needs, I don’t avoid them, but I make sure not to allow myself to get comfortable with the easiness of it.
One thing I can take away from these very unfinished thoughts that I’m sharing with you is this: No matter what, you have a choice. You get to decide how you are going to live your life. Some people may be disappointed by your decisions, and they may even get angry at you… some may never talk to you again. Most people will come around eventually, and they’ll say things like “I always believed in you and knew you could do it” despite what they may have said in the beginning.
I think that no matter what, it is always worth looking at your life and answering one question… if I was on my deathbed right now, would I have any regrets?
Most of you know that I launched my book campaign recently. What you may not know is that I am terrified to put a book out into the world.
When I was a wee little lad there were some dreams that I had for myself. One, was to become an artist and the other was to become a writer, then there were little sub dreams like a musician and an actor. I wanted to be a creative individual who had the ability to communicate his ideas via his art.
I have successfully communicated my ideas with my paintings and sculptures for the last decade, but any time I approached writing, it became a side hobby. What I didn’t realize at the time when I was making all the excuses in the world to not sit down and write my book, was that I was scared.
I mean, I am a full-time professional artist, I make art for a living… I’ve faced all the rejection, all the stereotypes, all the discouragement, and yet here I am. I persevered and showed myself and the world that I can do it. I have faced fear head-on blazed my own trail through the wilderness.
Apparently, none of that means a rip when it comes to putting a book out there. Suddenly a lot of old fears started to surface from when I first talked myself out of pursuing an art career. These fears where slightly different, not the same ones I had overcome.
What if my ideas are wrong or invalid, or that everyone already knows what I know?
If you have ever attempted to put yourself out there in the arena and face rejection head-on, chances are you have had some or all of the questions below running through your mind. Especially when you are going to put a performance or creation out there into the world.
“I don’t think I have anything new to say.” “What if I put this book out there and everyone figures out I’m a loser?” “Everything I have to say is stuff everyone already knows.” “I’m afraid this has all already been said.” “My book won’t be any different from other books on this topic.” “Surely if there was one book that did not need to be written, it’s this one, right?” “I’m afraid my book won’t be perfect.” “I’m afraid I put too much in.” “I’m afraid I didn’t put in enough.” “I’m afraid I’m going to forget everything I want to say.” “I’m afraid of leaving things out.” “What if no one reads it?” “What if there is no audience?” “What if my book doesn’t impact anyone?” “What if this is a waste of my time and effort?” “I’ll be embarrassed if people criticize my book.” “I’m afraid this book is going to make someone mad.” “I’m afraid of being judged.” “I don’t want my book to upset my current clients.” “I can’t say these things about people.” “What if my friends read it and hate it?” “What if I sound bitchy or stupid?” “I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.” “What if I get all one-star reviews?” “What if everyone who reads it, hates it?” “What will people think if there’s a typo?” “I’m afraid something will be wrong with my book, and I’ll look stupid to everyone I know.”
Sound familiar? These were the same fears I faced when I started showing my art full time.
So, what do I do with these fears…? I’m not sure yet, but I will tell you this. I am writing this book because it is the book that I wish I would have found when I started my art career, and I believe it is going to be amazing, despite my fears.
So, I’ll oblige and answer each question and respond to each statement.
“I don’t think I have anything new to say.”
Of course I don’t, there are only so many words in the English language and I’m not inventing any new ones. I do however have my own unique perspective and that will have to be enough.
“Everything I have to say is stuff everyone already knows.”
We already know a bunch of crap, but usually when we hear it from someone else’s experience, it makes a difference.
“I’m afraid this has all already been said.”
“My book won’t be any different from other books on this topic.”
Oh yes, it will, you’re not smart enough to write like those guys.
“Surely if there was one book that did not need to be written, it’s this one, right?”
You know that’s bull, this book needs to be written by you. Even if no one reads this, you need to write it.
“I’m afraid my book won’t be perfect.”
Good! Perfection is overrated.
“I’m afraid I put too much in.”
That’s what editing is for, better to cut than not have enough.
“I’m afraid I didn’t put in enough.”
Seriously, make up your mind. Trust me… You can’t keep your mouth shut, this is not going to be an issue.
“I’m afraid I’m going to forget everything I want to say.”
Only if you forget who you are, how you live, and what your entire belief system is.
“What if no one reads it?”
I’m sure at least Klee will read it, so no worries there.
“What if there is no audience?”
Your crowdfunding campaign is already 70% funded, I don’t think you have to worry about that.
“What if my book doesn’t impact anyone?”
If it impacts you, it will impact someone… write it for you.
“What if this is a waste of my time and effort?”
If you don’t do it, you will regret not spending the time and effort into it. That means that no matter what, it’s worth it.
“I’ll be embarrassed if people criticize my book.”
People criticize you all the time, and they will definitely criticize your book, so get used to it… sissy.
“I’m afraid this book is going to make someone mad.”
Oh well, people get mad over stupid stuff all the time, so don’t worry about it. You’re not a jerk who likes to provoke people, remember that.
“I’m afraid of being judged.”
You get judged every day… get over it.
“I don’t want my book to upset my current followers.”
The ones that don’t like it aren’t part of your tribe. Besides, the book is going to be awesome.
“What if my friends and family read it and hate it?”
They don’t like anything you do anyway, so who cares?
“I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid.”
Well, the book is not going to change your looks… so, get over it.
“What if I get all one-star reviews?”
Sweet! You got a star!!!
“What if everyone who reads it, hates it?”
Then, it’s bad and you should make changes for your second book.
“What will people think if there’s a typo?”
Dude… You are the typo master… if it happens big deal, own it.
“I’m afraid something will be wrong with my book, and I’ll look stupid to everyone I know.”
Everyone you know already thinks you’re stupid and they love you for it.
Basically, the idea is to get to a neutral place with fears. Not running away from them, but facing them head-on and taking away their power. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m getting there.
And… This book is going to be amazing because of it!
If you would like to help me make this book a reality, click on the image below to find out how.
Recently I felt like a little mouse, with a tiny helmet, attempting to figure out a way to get the cheese out of a giant mousetrap. I’m not going to bore you with the details of how I got into this situation, I’ve already talked about it in length in my last blog, I will say running a creative business is a bitch a lot of the time…
Heck, being a human can be a bitch a lot of the time, so what do we do in this thing that we call life?
A lot of artists ask me how I managed to “succeed” in a field that actually carries with it the stigma that you are automatically going to starve if you pursue said career. The word “artist” is synonymous with “starving” and a lot of the time, they seem to go together like email spam and my grandmother opening it.
What is funny to me, is that I don’t focus on having a successful career. So whenever someone asks me how I did it, I usually don’t have that clear of an answer. I do, however, have certain things that I try to remind myself daily, and that’s probably one of the reasons people assume I’m doing so well. These don’t have much to do with career, they are the way I want to see the world and myself. Simple little reminders to keep going.
You’re alive right now, and if you are alive, anything is still possible.
You’re expecting too much of yourself. Most successes are not overnight successes. Take your time and find a way to enjoy the slow burn. Keep chipping away, little by little, you’ll get there.
Remember that you are stronger than you think. You might privately think to yourself that you can’t handle the pressure. Trust me, we all do that, but we can do so much more than we think… and we can especially do way more than some people think we can.
Even when things seem to be falling apart, you have reason to smile. This one is tricky, don’t lie to yourself with false positive thoughts, but find a genuine reason to smile and change perspective.
Don’t compare yourself to people who you think are doing awesome. Instead, I think “If they’re doing great then I can too.” Besides, you haven’t walked in their shoes, you don’t know how they feel, but you know how you make yourself feel when you do something dumb like feel bad comparing yourself to someone you don’t really know anything about.
I can find a different “How.” Take a deep breath, do number 4, and then find a different way… especially if you have been knocking on a wall for days… you may just need to move to the left about 3 ft and knock on the door.
Can you find the fun in doing this? If not, consider the fact that maybe you should be doing something else. For this to work, I have to be honest with myself, because I can easily deceive myself into stopping. It’s important to remember why you started whatever you started and find your why… then check with yourself that you haven’t deviated from that purpose with your current project.
Take a break and work on something that will make you feel like a bad-ass. We all have things that we are really good at. Sometimes, I’ll take a break from the thing I am currently failing at, and work on something that makes me feel awesome. An “I am forking AWESOME!” break… We need that reminder sometimes, and I find that it is best to remind yourself by doing something you are a rock-star at, even if it is totally unrelated.
Usually right after I remind myself of these things, I have a momentary lapse into despair. It’s the lowest point in your whole journey, a hopeless-looking place that comes right before feeling good. Because I expect it, I handle it pretty well, most times. It is the brain’s last ditch effort to keep things safe and maintain the status quo.
I know, it’s a weird relationship we have with our brain, but most of the programming we have in our brain is designed to keep us safe and sound from anything perceived as a threat. Recently, the idea of leaving the safety and comfort of Etsy to pursue our own platform was seen as a threat to my well being, so my brain did everything in it’s power to protect me. It’s why some people giggle when they are nervous… not sure how that would save you from a saber-toothed tiger, but maybe you can giggle away ghosts or something.
When you’re pursuing anything, it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’ll think one or more of the following:
“This is harder than I thought it would be.” “Why is this taking so long?” “I’m getting nowhere with this.” “I keep failing and screwing it up.” “I can’t do this. What was I thinking?”
And when you do have one—or more—of these thoughts, it’s very likely that you’ll want to give up. When that happens, I remind myself of the points I made above.
Achieving large, hairy life goals isn’t easy. Doing much in life isn’t easy, and somewhere along the way it’s very likely that you’ll want to quit. But when you feel like quitting, and the going gets tough, just keep going.
Beside, it’s not a failure if you don’t quit… It’s just a work in progress.
HELP ME WRITE MY BOOK!
Pretty soon I’ll be starting a crowd funding campaign to help me finish my book(s) and audio-books. It’ll be the first of a series that I have been working on for the last 8 years. I am both excited and nervous!
Not well sometimes… but I’ve got some tricks up my sleeve that have helped me get better and better at dealing with poo flinging critics.
I think it is a necessary plight that one will have to get used to when you are putting yourself out there. I am an artist who creates art, music, writing, YouTube videos, and puts them all out there for the world to see… I get a lot of negative criticism.
Comparatively speaking, I mostly get a lot of beautiful comments on my creations. We have a following of some of the most amazing humans I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with.
Yet, negative comments can still throw me off kilter, despite the overwhelming positivity I experience in the world. It’s almost like a temporary reminder that the world isn’t such a wonderful place… and there is an a-hole around every corner, just waiting to jump out and say you suck.
I want to be clear about something, I’m not talking about constructive criticism. Listen, sometimes even a helpful criticism can be hard to hear, and our first response may be to run away flailing our arms helplessly, but sometimes it’s valid. Follow the source and stop for a moment, get off your high horse and check to see if it is valid and constructive. If not, then we are talking about destructive criticism. If the criticism is constructive, then it’s intended to guide you and to help you improve as a person, not to bring you down and make you feel inadequate.
If the criticism is completely invalid, totally off, and only meant to hurt you, then that’s what I’m talking about here.
So what do I do when someone is all “blah blah blah you suck Rafi blah blah blah!” I Don’t take it personally. It takes a miserable person to try and make themselves feel better by giving some misery to someone else… don’t take it, it’s not yours, and it doesn’t belong to you. Understand that people who are in pain say really hurtful things, especially people that may know which buttons to press. Think about a time where you may have said something terrible to someone. Were you in your right mind? Were you in pain? Were you feeling like a victim? Some people live there in that place… don’t take it personally, unless you wanna visit and stay a while.
Understand that it’s your buttons. Why is it that one person can be called ugly and not even react a little, but someone else will blow a gasket? It’s because we all have our own little triggers based on our own insecurities. So if someone says something and it bothers you, take a look and see if you can identify the insecurity or doubt behind the emotion. In my opinion, when someone says something mean and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are full of crap, you hardly even react, but if they touch on something that pushes on an insecurity it can be devastating. Just remember, they are your buttons. Figure out what’s behind it and sort it out.
Keep doing what you’re doing. Are you going to stop being who you are simply because someone spewed some garbage at you? Of course not. If the criticism has no basis whatsoever, then the best thing you can do is to ignore it completely.
Listen, people talk shit all the time because they are not putting themselves out there in the muck, sweating, bleeding and enduring the terrifyingly exhilarating ride that is fulfilling your dreams. They are going to say you can’t sing, you can’t paint, you’re not funny, you’re are not good enough, and everything else that they can say to destroy your hope and get you to stop. Don’t EVER let someone who is not putting themselves out there in the muck discourage you from going all the way. If they are not doing it themselves, and facing critics of their own, then they have no right to talk.
Don’t feel bad if you’re not able to push all of the negative words aside right away. It takes practice to work it out and get to a place where it’s no thing… But you got this.
People tend to think that artists are on the fringes of society and completely out of their minds. I can only assume to know what kind of craziness they think ensues in my creative life. I’m sure they picture me wide eyed and completely detached from reality stuck in front of a canvas throwing brushes at imaginary people… or doing drugs. Let’s be honest, most people think artists are on something.
I hate to burst your bubble, but I don’t do any drugs and I’m really quite boring… but awesomely boring. Although, if you saw me right now you would think I was out of my mind or on drugs. Listen, just because you’re in your studio shaking your fists in the air and screaming “You’re gonna die!” doesn’t mean you are crazy… it might just mean that a fly got in and it’s been flying around your head for the last hour.
Anyhow, the article is all about why I don’t need drugs, so let’s get into it.
1. I do something nice for myself every day.
Simply put, I make sure to do what I want to do for a few hours. Not a to do list, not a job, not errand, simply what I want. It might be paint something, or sit in a chair and stare at a wall, whatever it is, I’m gonna do it.
2. I listen to myself.
I pay attention to how I talk to myself, or how I describe myself in conversation to other people. I’m always paying attention to make sure that I’m not discouraging or putting myself down. I feel like it is a social norm to get down on yourself, and say things like “Yeah, I’m stupid.” or blah blah blah… In fact, most people don’t want to say too many nice things about themselves for fear that someone might think they are conceited, which in my opinion is stupid.
3. I forgive myself
I screw up a lot, and make all kinds of mistakes. I do a lot of great things too, but the problem is that most of the time we tend to dwell in the mistakes and all but forget the wins. I make it a point to learn from my mistakes and move on.
4. I accept myself as I am right now.
For starters, that means accepting the body that I have today, which is a very different body than I had forever ago. If there is any habit that I picked up from my family, it is obsessing about my weight and my age… weight, I can do something about if it gets out of hand, age not so much. Either way, being happy with the you that is you right now is the only thing that matters.
Self-acceptance also means accepting my income and success level, and getting out of the stupid mentality that I’m not enough. Honestly, accepting yourself is stating to yourself that right now, in this moment, you are enough… plain and simple.
5. I eliminate toxic people from my life.
I do not allow or tolerate clients, friends, family, collectors of my art, YouTube followers, or anyone to make me unhappy. I have no problem hanging up on, deleting, or not continuing a relationship with anyone who is toxic. It’s not worth it.
All in all, it’s about feeling a sense of freedom and appreciating your life more. I feel like a lot of my life was spent feeling like a victim, and needing to escape. It’s still a work in progress, but I mostly feel really good about my life. I no longer feel like a victim to toxic people, my own self talk, my mistakes, my age, my body, time, the world, or much of anything… except that damn fly.
I know what you’re thinking, oh boy Rafi is going to give us an airy fairy lecture on the universe or some crap like that. Maybe, but I wanted to share a piece of advice that I would have given my younger self. It’s a piece of advice that has changed my life for the better, a different perspective than what is the norm.
When I say everything happens for a reason, I don’t mean what most people mean when they are trying to see the silver lining in a tragedy, because honestly, sometimes there isn’t one. Life can suck royally and sometimes shit happens that we have a hard time bouncing back from.
It’s more about taking responsibility for your life and how you feel. In other words, not blaming yourself or others for the circumstances and events that take place in your life. Understanding that every moment, every circumstance is an opportunity for you to show yourself who you are.
Whether it’s good or bad, if you understand that everything comes into your life for a reason, even though at the time something might seem like your world is falling apart, you’ll be more equipped to handle it.
It is only natural to feel like things are not meant to happen in a negative way — people are not meant to leave, you are not meant to get rejected, accidents are not meant to happen — and if you had done something differently, the situation might have turned out different.
However, as time passes, you realize that things happen, life goes on, and you are left stronger and wiser for it. Sometimes people come into your life to teach you something about yourself, or to bring you to the opportunity to empower yourself. Things that seemed horrible, painful, or unfair at the time usually lead to an opportunity to stand up for yourself. Years later in reflection, you may realize that they happened because you allowed them to happen, and eventually got stronger for it. That is taking responsibility.
So here’s the advice I’d like to give to my younger self:
Everything happens for a reason — understand this. Without mistakes and failure, you would have never learned. Without breakups, you would have never met someone new. Without pain, you would have never grown. Once you understand this — really understand this — you will know that everything can serve a purpose. Don’t dwell on disappointments or view unfortunate events as regrets. But rather, see them as opportunities in disguise — an opportunity to know yourself. Try to understand the fleeting nature of events in life and don’t stress or ever think that life is unfair, because everything happens for a reason. And only time will tell.
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